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Twenty Nigerian Churches Demolished For ’Enviromental’ Concerns

by Obed Minchakpu

KANO, Nigeria (Compass) -- Twenty church buildings were demolished July 6-13 in Kano city of northern Nigeria by the Kano State Environmental Planning and Protection Agency (KASEPPA) after the agency claimed the churches failed to comply with environmental laws.

Rev. Gabriel Ojo, chairman of the Kano state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said that all the demolished churches were located in the Bompai area of the city.

According to church leaders in Kano, government bulldozers carried out the demolition of the churches, most of which had existed for more than 20 years.

Rev. Ojo said that other church buildings may be the next targets of the Islamic government in the state.

However, Alhaji Rabiu Bichi, KASEPPA managing director, told Compass that the demolition of the churches was not done to persecute Christians, but to sanitize the state’s environment.

"This exercise is not meant to witch-hunt or persecute Christians in the state as it was carried out in good faith," Bichi said. "All we are doing is sanitizing the entire environment by demolishing all illegal structures that have no valid certificates of occupancy, and these churches don’t have such valid documents."

Rev. Ojo disagreed, saying, "The structures that are marked ’illegal’ by the government, we have since discovered, are all churches. Not a single structure belongs to any Muslim. So you can see how the Kano state government is persecuting us."

The churches have not acquired valid documents for the properties, Ojo said, because their efforts have been thwarted by the Muslim-controlled state government, which brands the churches as "illegal structures" just to have them demolished.

Copyright 2001, Compass News Direct. Used with Permission.

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